|Album Review: Lola Kirke - "Heart Head West"|
Heart Head West
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New York, Los Angeles
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Lola Kirke has packed her bags, filled up the tank, and started off down the road. The actress and singer-songwriter released her debut LP r August 8, marking her next step in what will surely be an adventurous musical career. Heart Head West is the New Yorker’s at all times solemn, energetic, passionate, and vulnerable expedition into music. Kirke goes full throttle, exposing her heart and her mind to listeners through ten unique tracks.
Recognized for roles on screen including Amazon series Mozart in the Jungle and blockbuster film Gone Girl, the Downtown Records artist continues her crusade into the music industry, and a successful one at that. Following her 2016 EP release Lola Kirke - EP, the freshly cut LP was produced in Los Angeles by Wyndham Garnett. It paints a portrait of a pilgrimage through heartache, longing and relationships, and all the excitement and frustration that binds them together.
The curtain rises with “Monster”, arguably the most self-reflective song on the album. Kirke’s soft voice accompanies a sole guitar in the beginning. This quickly grows to include a drumming backdrop to accompany her high soaring voice in the chorus. Kirke relates to all of us in this track, writing about what we silently want to convince others of after mishaps or mistakes. “I’m not a monster just someone who wants to belong”. In fact, the entire album is strikingly relatable. The common emotions of desperation, frustration, and expectations that accompany any relationship are ones that Kirke touches on throughout. As examples, “Sexy Song” is the sultry sound of begging at the bedside not to be alone. “Supposed To”, the up-tempo single, is a response to not fitting the frames others have defined for us.
The most unique piece in my mind is the title track “Heart Head West”. It took me several repeats to interpret; only because it has multiple emotions and possible meanings attached to it. The track is seemingly two talking voices in nature, moving in and out of deep and high tones. The words speak of an almost psychedelic experience of nervousness to excitement, wariness to intrigue. The one minute, twenty-three second track is an adventure in itself. The heart and the mind moves from one emotion to another, illustrated by colours and natural elements. This short moment in the album undoubtedly displays the creativity that Kirke flexes in her art.
The entire album feels like a journey. Each song sort of melts together into one train of thought, slowly chugging along, heading to the western frontier, if you will. Kirke allows the country and folk-style instrumentals of “Bad News” to help narrate this pilgrimage. Further still, “Turn Away Your Heart” uses the classic fiddle that has sewn together such genres for generations. Kirke’s velvety voice sings in “Out Yonder”, that “though my head was strong, my heart headed west”. This eternal struggle between what our head is thinking versus what are heart is feeling is chronicled in Kirke’s lyrics. The ache in her voice and the poignant tales of love and life are maximized by the raw and the honest words that lace each tune. It’s clear that Kirke is ambitious to tell her story and communicate her soul. This is her opening herself to what I predict will be a following of passionate listeners.
The journey ends with “Point of No Return”. The Alanis Morissette vibes which come off this track carry us to a conclusion. All of the aggravating experiences outlined in the album have all crashed together at the end of the road. Reaching that point, Kirke foreshadows taking a different step, and allowing her heart to head in a different direction.